Selection of biological indicators appropriate for European soil monitoring

The selection of biological indicators for monitoring progress towards policy goals for soil quality should be without bias and in line with individual scenarios of need. Here we describe the prescription of a suite of appropriate indicators for potential application in such monitoring schemes across Europe. We applied a structured framework of assessment and ranking (viz. a ‘logical sieve’), building upon published data and a new survey taken from a wide section of the global soil biodiversity research and policy community.

The top ten indicators included four indicators of biodiversity (three microbial and one meso-faunal) by various methods of measurement, and three indicators of ecological function (Multiple enzyme assay, Multiple substrate-induced respiration profiling, and ‘Functional genes by molecular biological means’). Within the techniques assessed, seven out of the top ten indicators made use of molecular methods.